Its been quite a while since I last posted (as per normal) but this rainy weather I’m experiencing now has given me the perfect opportunity to sit down and write again. I find it nice to sit and reflect sometimes and remembering back to where my last post ended, I realized I’ve had a great last few months with friends and family.
It was a long round about way to get home from Europe last year. I had two weeks of waiting in Sydney quarantine free before making my way to WA after losing my international traveler status to then be allowed to complete my two weeks home isolation as a traveler from NSW. It was pretty crazy but I got to iso with Zac and WAIS was very kind and put us up in a cool house with a pool. There were worse ways to do it for sure.
On getting out I went straight home to Esperance to see my family that I hadn’t visited in a long time and spent a wonderful summer Christmas with them. The only sad part was not having Elyse with me as she was in hotel quarantine after making her way back from overseas after me.
After a few weeks at home, it was time to get back into training in Perth and by the end of January I was gearing up to head to Sydney for the long haul. I wouldn’t be back in WA for many months once I left with Covid restrictions still inhibiting travel.
This would be the first time doing proper training under Rafa as the new coach, not just regatta training and racing. It was exciting to be working with someone different and learning their take on the sport and the best ways to train and prepare for a campaign. I’ve been very lucky in my career to get to work with so many great coaches and sailors and take the best parts of each of them to incorporate into my own racing.
It was a very wet summer in Sydney this year which made quite a few things difficult. One being the wind mostly got sucked away so we had a pretty light few weeks of training (not such a bad thing for us). We also had to deal with poo brown water that ended up making most of the AST sick with gastro at some point including myself! In all though the training I got done in Feb & March was of a really high quality and I felt pretty ready to get to Europe again and race.
I flew to Mallorca on the 20th March to allow myself two weeks on the ground training before the event kicked off. This was because our camp in Sydney had ended and usually the weather in Palma is nice that time of year, surely better than rainy Sydney. Turns out this time I was wrong and Palma was nearly as wet and even colder than Sydney. I still managed to get a few good days of training in until something I didn’t really expect happened. I got Covid for the first time and boy did it rock me.
I was down and out not just from an isolation point of view but also from a being very sick point of view. I had it bad enough to test positive for it for 10 days, the first day of the Princess Sofia Regatta was my day 11 and the first day I tested negative to the virus since I got it. It really messed up my training leading into the event and my performance all though the event as well to be honest. It was quite a frustrating thing because I had put in months of work over the summer to try and peak at these regattas and now here I was not even a shade of what I was just a few weeks ago. This game and journey never ceases to surprise and challenge me.
Despite my covid I still managed to have a nice time in Palma and made the most of the regatta. We had one of the coldest and strongest wind events in recent memory for the 2022 Princess Sofia Regatta with 25-30 knots and freezing cold temperatures to start the event off. I didn’t have the greatest qualifying but I did manage to take a race win still and got safely though to finals (better than my silver fleet effort last time I did the event in 2018). Finals got a bit tricker with a tough mountain breeze causing a bit of chaos on day one but things got back to a more regular Palma for the last two days with a nice onshore breeze and some good waves. I had a good moment leading to the top mark in gold fleet on the first race of the onshore breeze but didn’t get my strategy right at all in the following races, backing the wrong side of the course too many times and having to chase down the leaders. I finished 14th overall from the 165-boat fleet. I was disappointed to not make the medal race being 10th going into the last day but it wasn’t to be this time.
Something I’m working on this trip is not hanging on to my mistakes for so long and trying to stay very present with each day as it comes. I don’t want to be feeling disappointed with myself any more than I need to be so making this conscious choice moving forward will hopefully help me sail better and have a more enjoyable time in general.
After the event I got to do something I never really had to chance to do before, I moved to the north side of the Island with Elyse, Zac and Ethan to a beautiful town called Cala Sant Vicenc to do the traditional cycle camp post regatta. Mallorca is well known as one of the best cycling destinations in the world and the North side of the island has easy access to some of the best climbs the island has to offer. There is a much slower pace to life away from the city on this side of Mallorca with open farm land, dramatic landscape and clear blue ocean in every direction you look. I can’t say my cycling form was much good due to still recovering from covid but I loved every second I was out there and we still got some epic rides in. My favorite was a ride I did with Elyse, only 60km long but 2000m of climbing over 5 different climbs finishing off with a stop at our new favorite restaurant on the island.
After a week of training and recovering it was time to leave again. Elyse and I flew to Barcelona (a place I felt much more familiar with after the worlds just a few months earlier) to pick up a hire car and make the drive to Hyeres. After a few adventures we made it to our accommodation just before midnight under a very full moon.
This was to be my 8th French Olympic week so safe to say I know the place pretty well now. I booked a nice apartment close to the club with Elyse and my mate Greg and we got stuck into our preparation straight away. The weather, I must admit, was the nicest Hyeres as ever given me with beautiful sunshine and wind for the whole regatta, something I haven’t experience there before.
Unfortunately, I really struggled to get off the line this event with some of my worst starting ever. I’m going through some changes with my starting and at the moment I’m paying my dues. Short term losses for a long-term gain hopefully. I did manage to turn them around briefly for the first day of finals but the consistency just wasn’t there. I finished the event 21st in a very competitive fleet, well below the standard I’m setting for myself this year. It’s one of the worst feelings really trying to do something and falling short but it’s only added fire to the belly for the world championships to come.
Lake Garda. 22
Straight after the event in Hyeres was finished, I packed and said goodbye to Elyse over a final croissant at the local boulangerie. She was off home and I wouldn’t see her again for another 2 ½ months. I however was hitching a ride to Milan with some friends then catching a train and a taxi to get to my favorite place on earth, Lake Garda. The calendar allowed us 12 days to use and we could think of no better way than to come to Garda to train and reset before we head to Mexico for the Worlds. I’ll admit the weather hasn’t been the greatest this time around but we’ve still got a ton of conditioning in and have been starting to get some good on water work done with the one and only Robert Scheidt. Yesterday I did my first ever double downwinder session and backed it up straight away with a windsurf. It was probably my best day in Garda ever, it was so much fun. Today is my final day in Lake Garda and I’m writing this as I wait for the Ora breeze to fill in so I can do one last sail before packing up and getting ready for the long journey to Mexico.
This will be my last post until after the worlds so here’s to everything going to plan and the training all coming together and paying off. The last time I was in Mexico was for the Worlds in 2016 and we were at the same venue of Puerto Vallarta again so it will be a reunion of sorts. The sailing conditions there are challenging but also awesome with reliable seabreezes every day and warm water. I’m really looking forward to it.
P.S these are a few extra photos I took while exploring in Arco on a rainy day off